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FAQs: Establishing Paternity


Q: What does it mean to establish paternity?

It means establishing legal fatherhood for a child whose parents are not married.

Once legal fatherhood is established, the name of the father and information about the father is entered on a child's birth certificate.

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Q: Why is it important to establish paternity?

Every child needs the help and support of both parents and both parents have legal rights and responsibilities.

  • Every person deserves and needs to know who their parents are.
  • Your child may need to trace special health problems or identify relatives with compatible blood or tissue types if a serious medical condition develops.
  • Your child may become eligible for benefits from both parents – Social Security, health and life insurance benefits, inheritance rights, veteran's, and other benefits. Usually paternity must be established before a child can receive these benefits from a father.
  • Financial support from both parents is required by law. Children supported by only one parent may not have enough money for their needs.

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Q: What are the legal consequences when paternity is established?

To be the legal parent means you have all the parental rights and responsibilities that a parent would have if the child was born in a marriage.

If you are a non-custodial parent:

  • You have the right to visit the child or to seek custody of the child.
  • You have the responsibility to contribute to the support of the child, even if there is no court order requiring the payment of a certain amount of money.
  • If there is a support order, the amount may be increased or decreased by a court or administrative order.
  • The support order may be enforced by wage withholding, tax refund intercepts, property liens, and other involuntary processes.
  • The child may have the right to inherit from your estate and receive Social Security benefits based on your earnings.
  • There may be other benefits and responsibilities as well.

If you are a custodial parent:

  • You have the right to seek birth costs and seek child support beginning on the date of the child's birth.
  • You have the right to have a child support order established, modified, and enforced.
  • You have the responsibility to care, maintain and control your child.
  • The child may have the right to inherit from your estate and receive Social Security benefits based on your earnings.
  • There may be other benefits and responsibilities as well.

Custody: By law, the parent who has physical custody of the child at the time the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form is filed has legal custody. Only a court can legally change custody.

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Q: What are the rights and responsibilities of a minor parent?

If a parent is under the age of eighteen and not legally emancipated by marriage or by a court order, he/she is a minor parent. A minor parent may give authorization and enter into agreements in adoption, juvenile court, or other proceedings concerning the care or custody of the child. A minor parent has the right to have a guardian ad litem appointed before a support judgment can be entered against them. A minor parent may file a petition on behalf of their minor child and if they are a minor custodial parent, they may enter into a contract for an apartment and for utilities. A lawyer can best explain the rights of a minor parent.

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Q: How is paternity established if the mother was not married during the pregnancy?

Both parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital or birthing center when the child is born.

Oregon hospital staff will make the form available and will witness the parents' signatures. No fee will be charged and the father's name will be added to the birth certificate at the hospital. Parents cannot use this form if the mother was married at any time during the pregnancy because Oregon law makes a husband the presumed father of the child.

Parents may also sign a notarized version of this form at any time after birth. There is no time limit on signing the form. If the form is not filed at the time of birth, there is a $30 amendment fee for the change to the birth record.

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Q: Can the parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form after the child is born?

If the mother was not married during the pregnancy, both parents may sign and have notarized a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit at any time after the child is born and the birth record has been filed.

A $50 fee is charged for filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit and creating a new birth certificate. The fee includes the cost of a new certified copy of the birth certificate with the father's name listed. To request a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, please call 971-673-1155, or e-mail the staff listed below.

To submit, please send the following:

  • $50 fee
  • Completed and notarized Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit
  • Completed PDFVital Records Birth Record Order Form. Mailing address and payment options are included on the order form.

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Q: Can someone help me complete the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit or pay the $30 amendment fee?

You may obtain free notary public services at the State Vital Records office at 800 NE Oregon Street, Room 225, Portland, OR 97232. In addition, Oregon Division of Child Support offices and District Attorney offices with child support programs will also provide notary public services. The Oregon Division of Child Support may also pay the $30 amendment fee if the parents can meet certain requirements. Please see the Division of Child Support Web page for further information.

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Q: Can the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit be rejected?

Affidavits with corrections, white-out, or without notarized signatures for both parents will be rejected. Affidavits will also be rejected if the birth record includes information that the mother was married at any time during the pregnancy.

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Q: Is there any way for a mother who was married during the pregnancy to use a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit?

The Center for Health Statistics receives information from the hospital about whether the mother was married during the pregnancy. If the hospital reported that the mother was married, the Center for Health Statistics cannot accept and file the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit unless the mother provides a certified court order (such as a divorce decree or an order of non-paternity) stating that the man who was her husband during the pregnancy is not the father of the child. Please send a certified copy of the court order (showing the original seal and signature of the court official) with the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit.

The language in the court order to disestablish the husband must be specific. It must state that the husband is not the biological father and provide the child’s name and date of birth or age. We will use court judgments where there is a finding of the court that there are “no children of the marriage” or “no children of the relationship.” Once the husband is disestablished, the mother and the biological father of the child may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

On the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form where there is a statement about eligibility to file the form, the mother must line out the statement that she is unmarried and initial the change. She should insert a note that husband has been disestablished.

The usual $50 fee is charged when this process is completed after the child is born.

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Q: How is paternity established if the parents marry after the child is born?

The Division of Child Support or any court may review genetic parentage tests and issue an order establishing paternity. The Oregon Center for Health Statistics does not have the legal authority to review parentage reports and change a birth certificate without a legal order.

If the mother was not married to someone else during the pregnancy and marries the father after the child is born, both parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. In addition, they may attach a copy of the marriage certificate to the paternity acknowledgment form. When the marriage is verified, the Center for Health Statistics will add the father's name to the birth record and change the mother's name on the signature line to her legal name after marriage.

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Q: How is paternity established if the mother was married during the pregnancy to someone who is not the father or if one parent refuses to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

Paternity may be established by a legal order from the Division of Child Support or by a court order. If either the father or the mother will not agree to establish paternity and the child is under the age of 18, either parent may ask the Division of Child Support (DCS) for assistance. DCS may file paperwork that results in a legal order to establish paternity and add the father's name to the birth certificate.

If the mother receives public assistance from any Oregon agency, such as the Department of Human Services or the Oregon Youth Authority, a child support case will be referred to the Division of Child Support automatically. If the mother does not receive public assistance, either parent can apply for services with the local county District Attorney.

The Division of Child Support is also responsible for assuring that children are provided with adequate financial support. For information about the child support program, applying for child support, and links to legal assistance agencies, please see the Oregon Division of Child Support FAQs. You may also find additional information in the Handbook on Child Support Enforcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Q: Can either parent establish paternity through a court?

Either parent may obtain a court order to establish paternity by hiring an attorney and petitioning a court. If one parent objects, the court may require genetic parentage tests before issuing an order. The court may also consider other factors including what is in the best interests of the child.

If you obtain a court order establishing paternity, the Center for Health Statistics requires a certified copy of the court order (showing the original court seal and signature of the court official) and a $50 fee. The original court seal cannot be photocopied, faxed, scanned, or emailed for the document to be accepted as the basis for changing a birth certificate. Oregon will accept court orders establishing paternity issued by courts in other states.

Submit the $50.00 fee along with the completed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit and a copy of the Vital Records Birth Record Order Form. Information about where to mail the documents, as well as who to make the check or money order payable to, is included on the order form.

In some cases where the parents marry after the child is born and then divorce, the divorce order may state that the husband is the father of the child and can be used to establish paternity and add the father's name to the birth certificate. The divorce order must state explicitly that the husband is the father of the child and the information about the child (name and date of birth) must match the information listed on the birth certificate. A divorce order that states that there is "one child of the marriage" without naming the child cannot be used to establish paternity.

The Oregon Center for Health Statistics cannot provide you with legal counsel or documents for petitioning a court and obtaining a court order. Please consult an attorney or obtain the assistance of your county district attorney.

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Q: If either parent has a lab report establishing paternity based on an analysis of genetic material from the child, mother, and father, can the report be used to establish paternity and add the father's name to the child's birth certificate?

The Division of Child Support or any court may review genetic parentage tests and issue an order establishing paternity. The Oregon Center for Health Statistics does not have the legal authority to review parentage reports and change a birth certificate without a legal order.

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Q: Can the name of the child be changed when paternity is established?

If paternity is established after the mother leaves the hospital, both parents may agree to change the last name of the child. This surname change must be included on the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit forwarded to the Center for Health Statistics. Both parents must agree on the last name. If one parent changes the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit by crossing out the last name of the child and writing in a different name, the form will not be accepted and a new form must be completed and signed.

After paternity is established and the child is more than one year of age, any change in the last name of the child will usually require a court order.

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Q: If a child's birth certificate is filed at the time of birth without the father's name and paternity is established later, can the mother still obtain a certified copy of the birth certificate without the father's name?

No, once paternity has been established and the father's name has been added to the birth certificate, the record has legally been changed and the birth record without the father's name cannot be issued.

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Q: If paternity has been established and one of the parents has reason to believe that the man established as the father on the birth certificate is not the birth father, what can the parent do?

Up to sixty days after filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or affidavit, either the father or the mother may request that the father's name be removed from the birth certificate. To remove the father's name, a Rescind or "Take Back" of Paternity Acknowledgment form must be filed with the Center for Health Statistics within sixty days. Parents may call 971-673-1155 or e-mail a staff person listed below and ask for the "Rescind of Voluntary Acknowledgment" form for either the mother or the father. There is no fee for filing this form.

Up to one year after filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or affidavit, either parent can request parentage testing. Paternity established by either the Division of Child Support (DCS) or the District Attorney (DA) can also be reopened in the first year by requesting parentage tests if they were not done before. Please contact your local DCS or DA office for additional information.

Once testing is completed, a court order may be issued to either remove or change the father listed on the birth certificate. The Center for Health Statistics will need a certified copy of the court order (showing the original stamp and signature of the court official), and a fee of $50. The fee includes the cost of a new certified copy of the updated birth certificate. Parents who petition a court directly need to obtain a certified copy of the court order. In cases where the Division of Child Support follows up by completing the parentage tests, DCS may send a certified copy of the court order to our office to change the name of the father on the birth certificate.

After a full year from the date paternity was established, either parent challenging the name of the father on a birth record must petition a court and obtain a court order to either remove or change the father listed on the birth record. Again, the Center for Health Statistics needs a certified copy of the court order with the original stamp and seal of the court and the $50 fee for changing the birth certificate.

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Q: How do I obtain a copy of the paperwork that shows paternity was established?

When parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or affidavit, the hospital staff or vital records office receiving the form should provide both parents with a copy. The newest version of the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity forms include a carbon copy for both the mother and the father.

Once the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or affidavit is filed with the Center for Health Statistics, it is placed in a special sealed file and access is restricted. Per House Bill 2093 and administrative rules effective January 1, 2014, parents listed on the birth record and the registrant named on the record after age 18 may request a copy of the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form.

It may also be requested by a child support agency created under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. Any other person or agency requesting a copy of the document must petition an Oregon court to obtain a court order for the release of the form. If such an order is obtained, you may forward a certified copy of the court order (showing the original seal and signature of the court official). The fees are $20 fee for a certified copy of the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, or $2 for an uncertified copy. To order, please see our PDFOregon Paternity Affidavit Order Form.

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Q: If you believe you are the father of a child born in Oregon, how can you find out whether you are listed on the birth certificate as the father?

Oregon law (ORS 432.350) restricts access to birth records and information to immediate family members and their legal representatives. To receive a birth record, you must be listed on the child's birth certificate. To find out whether you are listed as the father, you must request a copy of the record and provide the child's name, date of birth, place of birth (city and county), mother's full maiden name, and your full name as the presumed father. The non-refundable fee for a record search is $20.

The Center for Health Statistics will search for the record and you will receive one of the following:

  • A certified copy of the birth certificate if you are listed as the father.
  • A statement that you are not eligible to receive the record because no father is listed on the birth record. If the mother was not married at any time during the pregnancy, a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit will also be enclosed for use by the parents.

    When submitting the Acknowledgment affidavit with the $30 amendment fee, please include a copy of the order form showing proof of payment of the $20 certificate fee. You will then be charged the $30 amendment fee, but not an additional certificate fee.
  • A statement that you are not eligible to order the record. This statement will be sent if the record is found but someone else is listed as the father on the birth record.
  • A statement that no record can be found. If you receive this response, either the information provided was not accurate enough to locate the birth record, or the child was adopted and is now listed under a new adoptive name and new adoptive parents.

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Additional Questions?

If you have additional questions regarding establishing paternity on a birth certificate, please call:

Regarding Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity:
Debbie Gott
(971) 673-1155
debora.l.gott@state.or.us
Regarding Adding/Removing a Father to a Birth Certificate using a Judgment or Order of Paternity/Non-Paternity:
Tony Bojanowski
(971) 673-1143
anthony.m.bojanowski@state.or.us